Only 14 short-term let businesses in Edinburgh have so far had a licence granted to continue operating, campaigners in the sector have claimed.
The deadline to apply for a licence under the new regulations for short-term accommodation – which includes Airbnb-style properties, guest houses and B&B owners, as well as those who let out a room in their own homes or when they are on holiday – is Sunday, October 1. But the Association of Scotland's Self-Caterers (ASSC), which has repeatedly called for the deadline to be extended, said a poll completed on Wednesday showed more than a third of accommodation providers had not applied for a licence. It blamed “the onerous, complex regulatory burden, and the high costs involved” and warned of a serious loss of tourism capacity.
The ASSC claimed in Edinburgh, only 42 per cent of businesses affected had applied for a licence and only 14 businesses – 4.59 per cent out those that applied – had been granted a licence. Some 29 per cent of the businesses in Edinburgh said they had not applied because of planning. Accommodation providers in the Capital have complained they are required to obtain planning permission for short-term lets before they can apply for a licence but a majority of planning applications are refused.
ASSC chief executive Fiona Campbell said: “The numerous warnings from across the sector have fallen on deaf ears. The ASSC still contends that the regulations remain unfit for purpose and will wreak untold damage on Scottish tourism and our reputation as a welcoming place to visit and do business.”
She said thousands of jobs were at risk in the tourist economy. “There’s still time pause and reflect on the mess that this legislation is creating, it will be much more difficult to unpick once the damage has been done.”
The licensing scheme is part of an effort to bring short-term let accommodation under control following concerns that the proliferation of Airbnb accommodation in Edinburgh and elsewhere has reduced the number of homes available for people to live in as well as leading to anti-social behaviour and noise nuisance. The Scottish Government has said those who have submitted paperwork in time for Sunday’s deadline will be able to continue trading until their application has been processed.
Edinburgh council leader Cammy Day said the council was working over the weekend to deal with last-minute applications. He said: “With the deadline for applying for short-term let licences for existing operators less than 48 hours away, I would urge everyone who is yet to apply to visit our website and follow the necessary steps. Over the weekend we will be putting extra resources to manage the expected high volume of applications.
“On Monday, the regulatory committee will be considering our approach to enforcement in the city. We’re committed to ensuring that everyone benefits from Edinburgh’s thriving visitor economy, but this must be managed, and it has to be sustainable – and these fair and effective short term let controls are an important step in the right direction.”